Look What I Did: Attended Record Store Day in Wallingford
There are few things that can motivate me to get out of bed before 10:00 a.m. on a Saturday of my own accord. Record Store Day is one of them. So I emerged from tranquil slumber last Saturday and, with Matt Adelman ’13 in tow, booked it to Wallingford’s Redscroll Records, the closest thing New Haven County has to an Other Music or Mondo Kim’s. Who says central Connecticut can’t be hip?
First, some history. Record Store Day was founded in 2007 as a celebration of independent music and record store culture at participating independent stores (the few that remain, at least) nationwide. Conceived by an ambitious record store clerk by the name of (yes, really) Chris Brown, Record Store Day offers in-store performances, special appearances, music-themed exhibits, store discounts, and—perhaps most temptingly—exclusive Record Store Day artist releases. That first year, there were about ten Record Store Day releases, including Vampire Weekend, R.E.M., Jason Mraz and others. This year, that number exceeded 400—EPs, 7”s, 12”s, live recordings, and any combination thereof.
I wasn’t expecting a big turnout at Redscroll—a modest, locally run outpost of underground releases and cheap used vinyl whose owner serves on the board of WESU. I’ve never witnessed more than four customers in the store at once. And if Wallingford has a vibrant music culture—well, the small city of 43,000 is doing a damn good job of keeping it hidden.
I was wrong.
When I arrived, I expected to waltz in and get browsing. Instead, I sighted a line stretching well into the parking lot just to get into the store. The type: balding, moderately hip white guys in their thirties (think John Cusack in High Fidelity, but slightly less dashing), politely querying about first-pressing-only XTC singles and Bowie box sets.
“The line was stretched to that church when we opened at 9,” the owner boasted, pointing at a parking lot next door. “People started lining up at 4 a.m.”
In Wallingford? My jaw dropped.
On the bright side, Redscroll staff strategically placed boxes of used vinyl for Record Store Day customers to browse through while waiting in line. All three- and two-dollar discs were on sale for $1. By the time I advanced to the store itself, I had already pregamed by copping Yes’s The Yes Album, Peggy Lee’s Is That All There Is?, and Bon Jovi’s 7800° Fahrenheit for a combined $3.
In the store itself was a corner of bins devoted to Record Store Day releases only. The rule was firm: no more than one RSD release per customer. Popular choices included Phish’s Junta Deluxe—a 3-LP set selling for over $80—and David Bowie’s 7” Starman picture disc. Then there were 7” singles by Arctic Monkeys, Florence and the Machine, Flaming Lips, Regina Spektor, and M. Ward; live recordings by Shabazz Palaces and Leonard Cohen; box sets from T. Rex and Devo; and tons more.
I had planned to walk away with the Flaming Lips and Heady Fwends LP, a culmination of a year’s worth of collaborations with an oddball clusterfuck of contemporaries, including Lightning Bolt, Nick Cave, Bon Iver, Edward Sharpe, Biz Markie, and Ke$ha. Wayne Coyne claims to be collecting the blood of every contributing artist to be infused into the vinyl of a wildly expensive exclusive edition. According to the Oklahoma freak-in-chief, his fridge is filled with vials of blood belonging to Ke$ha, Bon Iver and Neon Indian, among others. The edition will appeal to “interested, rich Flaming Lips people.”
But when I saw Heady Fwends’ already startling $37.95 price tag, I recoiled. So I walked away with older releases by Mclusky and Wes’ own Bear Hands instead. I’d rather wait for Nick Cave’s blood anyway. My birthday is only five months away.